Regret and the Trap of Comparison
I had a conversation this week with a young man who was feeling discouraged. He had negotiated his way into a certain wage and then later discovered that someone with less seniority was making more.
“Aw, man,” he said, obviously bothered. “It made me feel bad. It kind of spoke to my heart.”
As he told me the story, I started thinking of how I’ve done the same thing. I can feel like I’ve had some success and that I’m doing okay financially—until I look at another person and see their figures. Or perhaps I hear a rumor, read something in the paper, or find some statistic on the internet that speaks to me in a louder voice than my self-confidence. The information of others can tower over how we perceive ourselves and if we’re succeeding or failing.
As humans, we constantly measure our progress, asking, “Am I successful or not?” We grip that question with both hands and often base the answer on how we compare with others. If we have something they do not have, we feel successful. If we don’t have something they do have, then we feel unsuccessful. Unfortunately, many of us believe that we are only as good as or we’re “less good” than the people around us.
That, I’m afraid, is a victim mindset. If we identify our value or sense of success by how we compare to others, we reveal a gigantic gap in our identity in Christ. A paradigm that says we are lacking is entrenched in poverty; it is a poverty mentality.
We cannot “judge” our value or success by a financial statement. Those dollars are supposed to be slaves under our feet, with Christ as our head. Jesus is over us, not our money, and He’s the One who gives us value. All of us need to remember that truth as we work out our day-to-day financial journeys.
Money and the Bible
When we start thinking of finances and the Bible, sometimes it’s pretty easy to dismiss what the Bible is saying. Some of us automatically put God’s Word in its own unique category. “The Bible talks about God stuff. It’s about eternal things, not about our everyday financial lives.”
Yes, the Bible is about “eternal stuff,” but it is also about you and me as we wrestle with financial issues—right down to the problem of identity and comparison. The Bible addresses every single need of every human heart and it always will, because it is perfect. The Gospel of Jesus is so thick, so good, and so true that it involves our eternity and even our present: how we think, how we live, and literally our day-to-day economy.
With the young man I told you about, I gave him the same advice I give myself. The truth of the matter is that my sense of value better not be tied to a few thousand dollars on my balance sheet or income statement. Money is a terrible master. If we set it up as the leader of our lives, we become its slaves, which is called the spirit of Mammon.
The Truth About Money
Many of us feel trapped by our circumstances. We look around with regret, feeling like some of our financial decisions haven’t been great. But again, our value is not tied up in money or the decisions we made with money.
God has a great plan for you. You are going to succeed because He will see to it. Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith; He is writing your story well and He is the One who gives you value. Money is simply a slave for us as we serve our King and Savior.
I believe that I’m successful because I’m loving my God. When all of this is over, you and I will get to hear those great words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
Be at peace this week. God bless your Prosperous Soul.